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Dances With Marmots - A Pacific Crest Trail Adventure Paperback – November 10, 2005

4.6 out of 5 stars 88 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

George Spearing was born and educated in the UK, spending two years as a cadet at the shore based naval training school HMS Conway before going to sea at age sixteen.
Emigrating to New Zealand six years later, he worked at a variety of jobs before joining the New Zealand Fire Service in which he served for twenty seven years in the Auckland Brigade, retiring with the rank of Station Officer. He now lives in Oamaru, South Island, NZ. 'Dances With Marmots' is his first full length book. He has had several outdoor magazine articles published plus a fictional short story published in Air New Zealand's flight magazine.

George continues his adventures and has since crewed on a 40ft yacht to New Caledonia and Australia, hiked the length of New Zealand's North Island and has also recently walked the length of Great Britain.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 263 pages
  • Publisher: Lulu.com (November 10, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1411656180
  • ISBN-13: 978-1411656185
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (88 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #524,370 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Although I commend the author for his courage and humor, some things about the book distracted from reading pleasure. This read like a self-published book (maybe it is) that had not been edited at all. There were no paragraph indents, and many sentences were run-on (strung together with commas when there sould have been a period). I'm not a stickler about grammar, but this was distracting and made it hard to read. There was also a problem with tense and scenes suddenly switching. For example, in a camping scene, the author would suddenly mention that he saw 3 bears while camping, but it turned out that this was referring to something that would happen several chapters later, so that during the present scene I would wonder, "Where are the bears?" Often I would hope for an interesting scene only to be disappointed by a blow by blow of each day and night on the trail (including the days where nothing really happened). If you can deal with the amateur style, you may enjoy this book.
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My favorite aspect of this book is how the reader sees America (and the PCT) through the eyes of a humorous New Zealander. George's writing is a pleasure to read. I especially enjoyed the passage where he describes exactly why he hiked the PCT. He had obviously done a lot of thinking over the many miles he walked and had come up with a beautiful way to express the exact reasons as to why he would walk 20+ miles a day for five months.

The only aspect of the book I didn't like was that, towards the end, Spearing seems to be a bit tired of writing a book and resigns to simply listing the names of the wilderness areas he visits. This is in stark contrast to the excited, witty and funny tone taken earlier in the book.

Regardless of this, I thoroughly enjoyed Spearing's book. If you are at all interested in hiking the PCT, I'm sure you will like his book too.
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Read this story several times before it was available in book form and was thrilled to find it had been published. I've read dozens of books and journals on hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, and Dances With Marmots is by far the best!

Spearing's gift for description and humor make this a fun read. The author has a gift for putting the reader on the trail beside him and his anecdotes of trail buddies, town stops, and dealing with customs at both ends of the trail are a delight.

Dances With Marmots makes you want to strap on a pack and hit the trail. A must for anyone who loves the outdoors and needs a chuckle.

Blessings,

Perry P. Perkins
Author
"Just Past Oysterville"
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Spearing seems modest and reserved. His story seems more real and believable than the recent book, "Wild." After reading Dances with Marmots, I question much of what I read in Strayed's book. That books seemed too much about self-promotion and dramatic effect. It is hard to take her seriously. I enjoyed reading Spearing's take on Americans. His observations rang true. He is not a social butterfly, as evidenced by his great desire for solitude, yet he honed in on telling aspects of our U.S. culture. His story is most interesting in what is unsaid. For example, there were a couple of women in the book that he described in a more gentlemanly manner than another person might. Reading between the lines, it appeared that they hit on him. If these encounters turned romantic, he was too chivalrous to mention it. Other odd things he did not state were the dates of his journey and his age. He was vague. Why? He indicated this journey was prior to hostilities in Iraq - but which Iraq war? He never mentioned his specific age. He said he was closer to 50 than 40. This was buried in the book toward the end. Not sure why he would withhold these facts, which would give more background to his story and better understanding to the reader. He noted other hikers ages throughout the book. This is relevant to assess the physical demands of the trek. As others have stated, there are lots of typos in this book. It could greatly have benefited from an editor. For example, at one point the Appalachian trail is spelled Appellation! The Kiwi terminology and expressions were charming.
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Dances With Marmots is a title that accurately reflects the read between the covers. Spearing portrays what it was like for him, a New Zealander, to hike the PCT, and it reveals not only the trials and tribulations of the long-distance hike, but the insights of one from another country doing it. This is a refreshing, entertaining, inspiring read that makes one feel they are beside him every step of the way.
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Format: Paperback
I've read a couple of PCT thru hike books but now usually avoid them because they're all about the same - up/down, hot/cold, fast/slow and the quirky characters and near death experiences. I've hiked for many years but never had a desire to do the PCT. It's main attraction is the challenge , like the mountain climbing I pursued in my early years. I got that challenge out of my system and went on to enjoy my backpack trips.I got a copy of Dances because from the reviews it seemed to offer more than the run of the mill thru hike book. Initially I was impressed with the author's humor and later with his take on American culture and history. Although this remained a part of his journey it became a lesser part and reverted to the typical story of cranking out endless miles between town visits for resupply, restaurants and on occasions a motel with a soft bed. In other words, it acquired the usual tedious plodding characteristic of other thru hike books. George must have felt this too because after his almost 200 page description of the trek through California he only had enough energy left for about 20 pages on Oregon and 20 on Washington. I've lived in both the Sierras and Cascades and felt his brief remarks on these two states short changed his readers. The book could have been really different but couldn't quite make it.
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